RGP pushes ball in Cong court with an offer it can't accept

| APRIL 15, 2024, 11:13 PM IST

The Revolutionary Goans Party, under tremendous pressure and having been accused of acting as ‘vote splitters’ finally offered an olive branch to the INDIA bloc, albeit with three stringent conditions and a deadline of April 20 to reciprocate. At the outset, the RGP move is strategic because, in the process it is trying to demolish the charge of entering the political fray to split secular votes and also trying to come clear of the allegation that it is the ‘B’ team of BJP.

The three conditions which are bordering on RGP’s stand on Mhadei, encroachments and illegal constructions and defining Goan identity, are at the heart of the State and could push the Congress into a tricky situation. The conditions will not only help RGP put its narrative in perspective and amplify its commitment to issues but will also strengthen its position as a party championing critical causes of the State.

From the Congress perspective, the conditions are untenable. For example, taking a commitment on Mhadei from Karnataka would be a herculean task, if not impossible, because Congress is in power in Karnataka and would be more inclined to pursue the interests of that State. Also, committing to wiping out illegal structures on Comunidade land and defining the identity of Goans are very sensitive issues that have far-reaching consequences and political ramifications.

RGP, by putting conditions for joining the alliance in Goa, have pushed the Congress into an awkward situation and tried to steady itself from the charges levied in the run-up to elections. If there were genuine interests in identifying a common enemy or if defeating the BJP was the primary goal, then a conditional entry does not make sense. Given the situation, RGP seems to be only trying to send out a message to the electorate.

If we may recall, vast sections of people have launched a smear campaign against the RGP labelling them as a team funded by the BJP to cut into the Congress vote banks. Some have pointed to RGP hand-picking selective rival targets in campaigns as an indicator of which side the football is rolling.

The conditional offer is a strategic ploy that the RGP has unleashed to save itself from flak should a situation arise on the lines of the 2022 Assembly elections where BJP took advantage of a split in secular votes and Parab and team were considered as 'spoilers'. It may be trying to insulate itself from a backlash, but through the tone and tenor of Manoj Parab, the RGP strongman, it is amply evident that the party does not have the idea of a common candidate at heart. The repeat references to the internal conflicts of the Congress and the allegations that the party bosses were unresponsive are only attempts to rub salt into the wounds of the grand old party and embarrass it further.

Finally, Parab knows at the back of his mind that he is not in a position to pull out after over a month-long campaign and concede in favour of a Congress candidate because an exit at this stage could find RGP in the middle of nowhere. The RGP, in this belated move, has undoubtedly tried to cover loose ends, but by making Congress an offer it cannot accept, it is only adding fuel to the fire of speculations on the party's alignment.

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